Today: April 11, 2024
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Son Of Babylon

Most people agree that Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq was bang
out of order. In fact there was a mass agreement on that before the
troops went ahead and put their first boots on Iraqi soil. For whatever
reason it happened – oil, Dubya’s daddy issues, shock doctrine
experiment, greed – it was not a good thing for the people of Iraq. As
bad as Saddam might have been, Iraq is in a lot worse state now than it
was then.

As we have seen in recent weeks in Tunisia, Egypt and other pockets
of the Middle East, eventually the people will take matters into their
own hands to try and remove despots, without external interference.
Admittedly, the countries that are undergoing popular revolutions now
are comparatively moderate countries with economies that rely on foreign
tourism rather than oil, making them of less interest to the US and their delusion that they are the world’s police.
However, this is not supposed to be an essay on Middle Eastern
geopolitics but a review of a film set in the aftermath of Saddam’s
downfall.

Director Mohamed Al-Daradji has constructed a very simple
story of a young Kurdish boy and his grandmother on a road-trip through
war-torn Iraq; he is in search of his father and she her son, who went
missing after the Gulf War. When they get news of imprisoned soldiers
being freed in the south of the country they decide to make the long
journey to Babylon. It’s a perilous journey, but along the way they make
unexpected friendships with former antagonists, as they unite with a
new common enemy and goal.

Opting to shoot in the actual locations, rather than substitutes in safer neighbouring countries, the director captures a real sense of danger and desolation in an almost documentary style.
And yet, amongst all the destruction and sadness of each fraught
discovery there are moments of real beauty, humour and humanity. As we
share the protagonists’ journey it is impossible not to be moved by
their plight and shocked by the ultimate revelation, which is guaranteed
to bring a tear to the eye.

There are no fancy cinematic tricks or location reconstructions; this
is raw, well-crafted filmmaking and storytelling at its best that also
carries a profound message to the world about the plight of Iraqis whose
lives have been destroyed by a handful of greedy despots. Don’t miss it.

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